In India, a network has been exposed on social media in which some people claiming to be Sikhs are promoting hateful ideas by creating fake accounts.
According to a report by BBC Urdu, 80 accounts of the network have been identified which have now been suspended due to being fake. The network was promoting Hindu nationalist ideologies and support for the Indian government with the help of accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
The report’s author, Benjamin Strick, believes that the network’s apparent purpose was to change public opinion on important issues such as Sikh freedom, human rights and values.
The network consists of fake accounts controlled by real people and they present themselves as independent individuals.
According to the report, the names of Sikhs were used in fake accounts and it was claimed that they are ‘real Sikhs’. He used the hashtags ‘Real Sikh’ and ‘Fake Sikh’ to promote different political ideologies or make them unreliable.
The report by the non-profit organization Center for Information Resilience identified a number of network accounts that were found on various social media websites. The same names, photos and posts were being published on these accounts.
According to the report, integrated message access, relentless use of the aforementioned hashtags, identical information in the account bio and following the same people, all these evidences prove that this account is not real.
It may be recalled that last Friday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi repealed three controversial laws of agrarian reform after a year of protests by farmers.
The network of fake accounts was the most talked about by the Sikh peasant protests and the Khalistan movement. According to the report, these accounts termed any idea of Sikh liberation as extremism and called the farmers’ protests illegal while claiming that the protesting farmers had been hijacked by ‘pure terrorists’.
Earlier, the Indian government had also claimed that Khalistani had infiltrated the farmers’ protest. Farmers protesting against agricultural laws believe there may be political motives behind the measures.
Jagjit Singh Daliwal, leader of the Indian Farmers’ Union, one of the 30 unions involved in the protests, said:
These accounts had thousands of followers and their posts were also liked and retweeted by the original influencers until these posts were even published in news websites.